M: Korra vs Last air bender the evolution of the best not really anime anime out there. To those that are unaware of recent I finished for the first time the original nickelodeon hit Avatar the last air bender as seen in my review ((http://www.animevice.com/avatar-the-last-airbender/11-5475/user-reviews/?review_id=1143)) And so I decided to jump into watching the shows sequel the legend of korra, off the bat the two shows struck me as incredibly different in almost every respect aside from the key components of the world. This shocking difference drove me to do something I’ve never done, actually compare and contrast the series without it even being finished.
To explain the story in a nut shell and I warn you this will technically spoil the last air bender, but if you haven’t seen that then this blog post has no point to you anyways the legend of korra is about the new avatar who is a prodigy in all elements besides air as opposed to Aang who knew only air who has traveled to the new “Republic city” ((Fire lord Zuko’s and Avatar Aang’s dream city) a homogenized capitol for all nations and benders, this already a huge thematic change from the short story/traveler theme that the original is based on, seeing as Korra is about one set city. The city is basically New VancouverYork complete with the statue of liberty I mean Aang set to a new 1920s theme.
This time jump is the core of this being a new age of tech replacing the need for benders and causing a social schism between the now near pointless benders and the more prominent nonbenders. Nonbenders being lead by Amon a masked man with the power to bend bending (get rid of bending powers) However this schism of old vs knew is even more apparent, the avatar is more a relic and tradition then a practical peace keeper, most bending is now basically kickboxing and the culture has begun to blend into a single identity, oddly American of all things.
Well with that established where has the show benefited?
Well first of Korra is herself better then Aang, she is likeable, funny, real, much older and thus much more serious. She comes off as a fantastic character and possibly the best in the show which is rather hard to pull off, the most enjoyable characters rarely are the main protagonist I.E. Iroh being the best from the one before. Even her design is perfect, she comes off as very attractive without being sexualized or made to look weak, she is tall confident and independent without it being forced and preachy, most important of all she seems complete and natural, she seems like someone I would like to know and COULD know. The supporting cast while not as memorable have very natural dialogue and often are funny without being “zany” AKA annoying. The series seems to have a more natural high quality with no poor or out of place performances and the frames per second as well as the visual quality have improved. The maturity is better and even more prevalent than most dramas and people simply act like people in a very real way that just doesn’t seem to happen in almost any media and again I can’t stretch this enough Korra is one of the best characters I have ever seen be the lead.
But where did it fail?
Plenty. Mostly due to its core thematic principle of old vs new, the problem being, the new sucks. I hate the setting and the homogenization. No longer is the exploration through multiple philosophies and cultural identity the core, because in republic city we are all one, and no longer is the martial arts the visually old and beautiful ancient arts, no it’s the streamlined and simple boxing to me the most offensive switch of all, Bending was about the art the style each perfectly reflecting the culture of it now it’s all one and its cold. The next massive issue is simply the complete lack of scope. In the last air bender the world was at stake and the all the nations were the battle ground, this is just fights between benders and non benders with really nothing riding on the winner, I mean the biggest threat the villain brings to the table is that republic cities benders might if they fight him lose their powers. When all your enemies are just chi blockers the enemy seems silly when fighting fire shooting supermen, and so far the single biggest event has just be the main villain telling Korra that they might fight later. Without anything riding on the good guys you become more interested in her day to day life than anything to do with the actual conflict. Lastly and this is nitpicking but in the last air bender we established it was Tophs blindness that made her capable of metal bending and that lighting bending was a rare trait only the best fire benders can do ((Hell fire lord Zuko couldn’t even lightning bend)) yet the most average Joe bender can do them now?
In the end is Korra the better show? To sum it up not yet, it’s only five episodes in and either A. The story speeds up and brings something exciting to the table or B it will be an okay short series that was in a good universe that was worst of all a waste of a excellent character.